Kedarnath Dham; an important religious destination nestled in the high Himalayas of Uttarakhand at an altitude of 3,583 meters is an abode of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva referred to as the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’ is enshrined here in the form of a Jyotirlingam. Kedarnath Dham is the third Dham in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit and pulls pilgrims from far and wide. The route to Kedarnath Dham is not easy. The rugged Himalayan terrains and the erratic weather conditions will try your tenacity and resolve every minute. To reach the temple successfully and to complete the Kedarnath Yatra in a hassle-free way, read below to learn more about the Travel to Kedarnath. This Kedarnath Travel Guide will come handy when you are on your way to Kedarnath…Read on…
Kedarnath is a sacred town located in the Rudraprayag district of the North Indian state of Uttarakhand. The town is a Nagar Panchayat and stands in the vicinity of the geographical source of River Mandakini. The town is about 223 km away from the town of Rishikesh, another town of Uttarakhand. The latitudinal and longitudinal extents of Kedarnath Dham are 30.7346° N, 79.0669° E
How To Reach
Those traveling by train will have to reach Haridwar or Rishikesh. Both Haridwar and Rishikesh are connected to the rest of the country by well-developed railway networks. On reaching any of these stations, the rest of the journey until Gaurikund; i.e. the Kedarnath trek base camp may be undertaken by means of road transports such as public and private buses, taxis or jeeps. On reaching Gaurikund you’ll have undertaken the 16 km long trek to Kedarnath shrine on foot. Those who find it difficult to walk may hire pony ride services or Doli services. You can book your pony or Doli service at the Government Medical Centre located at Sonprayag. If you are planning to travel by flight, you’ll have to take a flight to Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport first and then continue the rest of the journey by means of road transport. Pilgrims opting for Helicopter Yatra too can board their Helicopter from Dehradun.
The summers in the region start from the end of April and continue till mid-June. Summers are cool, tolerable and pleasant. Monsoons set in by the end of June and continue till early August. Light showers and a sharp drop in temperature due to the rains could be a possibility during the Monsoon season. The time span between mid-August and mid-October marks the pre winters. Beyond the month of October, heavy snowfall starts in the region and temperatures drop below the freezing point.
When To Visit
From November till April, Kedarnath Yatra is halted each year as that period marks the winters and winters are severe and totally unfit for Yatra. After a period of six months, the temple doors are thrown open to receive a huge crowd of pilgrims. That marks the beginning of the summers in the region. Thus, the period between May and October marks the chief Yatra season for Kedarnath Dham. However, make sure to avoid the monsoon months; i.e. mid-June to early August when you are planning a trip to Kedarnath Dham. Monsoons make the region landslide-prone and thus, quite risky for travelers.
Places To Visit
On your Kedarnath Dham Yatra, the places you could visit are as follows:
- Kedarnath Temple: This extremely holy site makes the focal point of the entire Kedarnath Dham Yatra. The temple dates back to nearly 1000 years and is said to have been constructed by the Pandava brothers who are said to have visited this place in search of Lord Shiva (as per mythical tales). Ancient religious texts reveal that around 8th century AD the great spiritual guru Adi Shankaracharya had refurbished the temple. The temple enshrines the conical-shaped lingam of Lord Shiva that resembles the hump of a bull in shape and size. The Kedarnath shrine is counted as one among the 12 Lord Shiva Jyotirlingams that our country boasts of. Pilgrims from every nook and corner of the country brave the harsh weather conditions of high Himalayas and the difficulties of a mountainous route to reach Kedarnath Dham every year during the Yatra Season.
- Vasuki Tal: This crystalline glacial lake perched at an elevation of 4135 meters above the sea level and located at a distance of near about 8 Km from the Kedarnath shrine comes with a serene background consisting of the mighty Chaukhamba Peaks. The trekking trails to Vasuki Tal originate from Gauri Kund and are ‘moderate’ in terms of difficulty of the route. According to myths, Lord Vishnu had taken bath in this beautiful lake on the holy day of Raksha Bandhan.
- Adi Guru Shankaracharya Samadhi: The Samadhi consisting of the grave treasuring the mortal remains of Adi Shankaracharya lie just behind the Kedarnath shrine and pilgrims visiting Kedarnath Temple make sure to visit the temple and pay their tribute to this great spiritual guru.
- Triyuginarayan Temple: This namesake shrine belongs to its deity; Lord Vishnu. The temple can be reached easily from Gaurikund which serves as the base camp for the Kedarnath Temple trek too. The spiritual significance of the temple is rooted in the myths. According to myths, the wedding between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati took place nearly three yugs back at this very site. Lord Brahma is said to have been the priest who had solemnized the wedding. A sacred fire or Dhuni burning eternally at the temple premises is said to have been ignited during the wedding ceremonies.
Kedarnath Temple Timings and Puja
The temple opens around 5.35 am in the morning and remains open until 3.00 pm. During this time devotees may get to view the Rudra Abhishekam and may get to touch the lingam of the lord. From 3.00 pm till 5.00 pm the temple remains closed. At 5.00 pm the temple opens again and remains open until 9.00 pm. During this evening session devotees are not allowed to touch the deity. They can only visualize from a distance.
There are many decent lodges, guesthouses, and camps on the Kedarnath route for you to put up at. Most of the hotels and lodges are located at Rampur and Sitapur on the route to Kedarnath Dham. At Gaurikund you’ll also find camps and guest houses managed by GMVN. Most of these accommodation options come equipped with basic facilities like ample hot water, cable TV, Laundry, STD Call services, Parking, Helpdesk, Doctor on call, etc.
You will be getting pure vegetarian food in the region. Non-vegetarian food and alcoholic beverages are a strict No-No in the region. Roadside eateries may serve you typically Garhwali Thali, tea, coffee, biscuits, etc.